DUDE, JUST CHILL
FEEDING THE MONKEY IN HOLLYWOOD AT GARDNER STAGES
As a quartet of Hollywood hopefuls vegetate in their small Beachwood Canyon-adjacent apartments, perpetually getting high and calling Pink Dot for more Ketel One, they know they should be stuffing headshots into envelopes or doing something worthwhile to validate their existence. “Maybe it’s okay if we just say, ‘I live in Hollywood and I got totally fucked-up today,’” suggests Sunny (Theresa Burkhart) to her friend Lola (Alex Dawson) as an alternative to the realization that “no one really does anything in this town.” Instead, as chronicled in Burkhart’s Feeding the Monkey in Hollywood, they put their creativity to a different use: inventing schemes and situations to impress upon everyone the fact that they’re busy, vital artistes leading fascinating lives—as long as they remember to wipe the coke residue off their faces.
Unfolding in two separate apartments distinguishable from one another only by reversible movie posters, a coke-dusted coffee table, and a battered Barcalounger, the girls’ day is juxtaposed with that of Brian and Matt (Jeff Rubio and Matt Gallagher), who stare at the tube, pick their navels, and try to remain as inert as possible so that they don’t have to shower again today. “Maybe we need a project,” suggests Brian. “Yeah,” Matt agrees, “I like that word.”
As Brian and Matt build a Hydroponic Automatic Inebriator worthy of Betty Boop’s grandfather, Sunny and Lola concoct a stew of Miracle Grow, Ajax, bleach, and lube to make them sick in an effort to explain why they are frittering their day away watching 9½ Weeks. When their cooking skills blind them, they decide to visit Brian and Matt’s apartment anyway—after all, they know the car keys are on the hook near the door, the pothole in the road is just before the stop sign at the preschool, and they can distinguish between the guys because Matt smells of Polo and Brian of CK-1.
Burkhart’s rapid-fire script is golden, and these four precision comic actors are hilarious, led by director Jamie Wollrab to create a refreshing evening reminiscent of Lucy Ricardo reinterpreted by Cheech and Chong. Feeding the Monkey in Hollywood won’t save rainforests or change the world, so don’t expect to leave with a new understanding of life among the sharks in Lost Angeles, because there is none—unless you’ve lived through what these people are experiencing and are oddly warmed to find that nothing much has changed in 40 years. Why, I even looked online for the nearest Pink Dot, emailed Netflix to send me 9½ Weeks, and hopefully Matt and Brian’s Hydroponic Inebriator will be perfected and for sale at California Caregivers Alliance by summer.
Gardner Stages is located at 1501 N. Gardner St. in Hollywood (natch); for tickets, call (323) 960-1053.